What Does the Texas Tech Basketball Roster Still Need?
The Texas Tech basketball roster has gone through monumental changes since April 1st. Both the staff and players look nearly completely different a month later. While there have been several additions to the program, many holes still remain on the road back to being a true contender in the Big 12.
Let's start with what's been added and who stayed behind.
First off, the entire staff has been flipped. Even Mark Adams and Sean Sutton who remain from the previous staff have new roles. Adams is obviously taking over as the head coach, and Sutton's Player Development title was given to returning Kansas Killer Darryl Dora over the weekend.
The rest of the staff is comprised of several grad assistants and quality assistants, including Barret Peery, Corey Williams, Talvin Hester and Darby Rich. With the staff in place, Adams can really start to flesh out what he wants the team and roster to look at in totality next season.
The returners for Texas Tech from the previous season fall into several different categories. Starters, role players and Avery Benson. The returning starters who will likely start in 2021-22, regardless of who's brought in, are Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva. Both McCullar and Santos-Silva will have large roles on next years that will likely mirror most of what they've been asked to do in the past.
The Red Raiders also return Clarence Nadolny and Chibuzo Agbo, who both have big potential to contribute next year. Agbo fits the long athletic mold that Adams is currently recruiting, and I'll get back to Nadolny in a minute.
Avery Benson is...Avery Benson. He's vital to the success of Texas Tech basketball, regardless of what the box scores say.
Let's talk about the new guys. Ethan Duncan from Lubbock Trinity is the lone high school prospect being brought in by Adams' new staff. He's a sharpshooter who's shot will translate, but will need to grow into the Big 12 physically before he can play major minutes at Texas Tech.
The JUCO phenom KJ Allen is the next signee. He's not quite the complete player that Kawhi Leonard is in the NBA, but he flashes some Leonard-esque traits with his massive claw-like hands, ability to guard multiple levels and soft-spoken demeanor on the court. Allen won't be leaned on like Leanord is, but maybe he'll develop late and blossom into a Finals MVP.
While Allen is a "forward" in a world of positionless basketball, Texas Tech also signed two 6'6" guards to bolster the scoring a playmaking of the backcourt. Both Adonis Arms from Winthrop and Davion Warren from Hampton will have the ability to push for minutes, with Hampton more likely to vie for a starting role. The Hampton transfer averaged 20+ points per game last season.
Texas Tech has also added 6'4" Dallas Baptist product Chandler Jacobs to the roster. Jacobs is the all-time leading scorer at DBU and another 20+ point per game contributor.
The door is also open for potential returns of Mac McClung and Terrence Shannon. Shannon would immediately walk back into a starter's role, with McClung likely playing fewer minutes than last season and with a new role as a starter next year.
Even if, and that's a large if, those two players return, the Red Raiders still have scholarships available to add players and need to fill two roles posthaste.
The first role that Texas Tech needs to fill is "distributing point guard." I know I mentioned earlier the buzzword of positionless basketball, but that doesn't mean there aren't any defined roles on the team. The last two Texas Tech teams have struggled mightily finding rhythm on offense. I know the system is changing, but a ball-handling guard that has an affinity for finding open looks for teammates and knocking down shots when they are open would fill a large gap. Above-average perimeter defense is a plus.
The guy in mind that has embodied this role in the Big 12 lately is Jevon Carter.
Could Nadolny or Jacobs be that guy for Texas Tech? Maybe, but I still think another point guard on the roster is a big need.
The other major hole on the roster right now is rim protection.
Zach Smith, Zhaire Smith and Tariq Owens provided Texas Tech with rim protection to varying degrees of success. Both Smiths provided 40+ blocks when they played full seasons, while Owens was the most prolific shot blocker in Texas Tech school history, swatting 92 balls in his senior season.
TJ Holyfield had 50 blocks in 2019. If you can recreate that protection around the rim, it would help immensely. You'll have to find a way to get him onto the floor with Santos-Silva though if you want maximum impact. The duo of Odiase and Owens could be recreated if an elite shot-blocker joins the team.
It doesn't have to be a 6'11" monster, but there happens to be an NAIA superstar looking to move up a level named EJ Onu who had a ridonkulous 182 blocks in 32 games played for Shawnee State in 2020. That's more than FIVE blocks a game! Sure, it's the NAIA, but those instincts are real. He added double-digit points and about eight rebounds per game to go with the blocks. Onu also shoots better than 40% from three.
Onu is testing the NBA draft waters but has been contacted by Texas Tech.
Another sneaky name is Mouhamadou Gueye, who's 6'9" and had an insane block rate in his limited minutes played for Stony Brook in two seasons. Gueye played in 21 games for Stony Brook last year, but only started 16 while playing 26 minutes per game. He made the most of the opportunity given, knocking back more than 60 shots and averaging nearly 10 points and seven rebounds per game.
With those two names on the target list, I have faith that new head coach Mark Adams recognized the lack of rim protection in the past two seasons compared to the back-to-back elite eight runs that Texas Tech went on.
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